Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
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The SNP/LibDem/Labour Administration of Highland council today announced that, having listened to the concerns of the public regarding proposals to reduce the primary school week, they have decided to remove the proposal from year 1 (2015/16), to allow further work on the detail and to minimise any impact on schools. Budget Leader, Maxine Smith (Scottish National Party) said: "We are currently considering the responses to our consultation and listening carefully to what people are saying and early feedback suggests there are major concerns regarding the primary school week.
A huge number of responses have been received as part of the phase two Budget Consultation. There were 4 key strands to this phase of the consultation including surveys of the Citizens' Panel, the Highland Communities Panel, ten Focus Groups with hard to reach groups and an online survey as well as general comments which were received.
Highland Council Licensing Committee is voicing its concern that a small number of licensed taxi and PHC operators are failing to take appropriate steps to ensure their vehicles are safe and meet the standards required. This follows three hearings at each of the last two Committee meetings, on 14 October and 11 November, following the receipt of reports from Trading Standards.
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Building work has begun on a new enterprise and research centre at Inverness Campus. The building will house a new collaboration between two of the region's key strategic organisations.
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As winter approaches householders are reminded that Garden Waste Collections will cease for a period of 3 months from the end of November. There will be no brown bin collections in December, January or February.
North businesses are being invited by The Highland Council's Procurement team and Business Partners to join them at Mackay's Hotel, Wick on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 November to find out about new opportunities in public sector business. This is a free advice and information event aims to help interested businesses bid for public contracts, whether they have worked with the Council before or never considered public sector contracts.
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